Wednesday, January 2, 2008

My Greatest Genealogical Find Ever

I have to say that I really enjoyed Craig Manson's post "Greatest Genealogy Find Ever" over at Geneabloggie. In fact, I spent way too much time on his great site this morning but it was time not wasted as far as I am concerned. I don't know why I didn't have Craig over on my blogroll but now I do!

The post got me to thinking about what one or two things I would designate as my greatest finds in terms of my family's history. This was easy for me since it is a small booklet that launched me on this journey about 12 years ago.

The item: The Genealogy of David Putman and His Descendants, by G.W. Putman, 1916. A pdf copy can be found here.

Growing up, I had heard "rumors" of this magical book that contained my great-grandfather John Ralph Austin's genealogy going all the way back to the 1600s. I always imagined some large, fancy tome bound in leather with gold letters, perhaps a brass clasp. Too Harry Potter, right? Well imagine my initial disappointment when in 1995 my mother presented to me a small 6 x 4" pamphlet of about 60 pages. Cue: Peggy Lee singing "Is That All There Is?"

Well, good things do come in small packages. It turns out that this tiny book was one of only 100 copies published in 1916 by George W. Putman, who was my 2nd cousin 5 times removed. The entire research process for G.W. began when a distant cousin had asked for information on the family's Putman branch of ancestors.

Since there was not much information available, G.W. began a journey not unlike my own, but with much more rudimentary tools. As he states in his Prefatory Letter on pages 5 and 6, he began by writing to the Post Masters of various small towns in upstate New York asking if they had any residents with the last name Putman and, if so, to kindly send him the names and addresses. I'd like to see someone try to do that nowadays! Many far-flung relatives responded to G.W. and sent details as to ancestors and descendants.

But since this research format is really not using documented first sources, I knew I would have my work cut out for me. However it did provide me with a framework to use. Over the years I have found glaring errors, some of which tend to be duplicated by other Putman researchers.

This is one of the items of my family history that I treasure the most. And it is safely tucked away now that I have copies available online to use when performing my research.


Randy Seaver said...

Hi cousin,

I too descend from 1) Jan and Cornelia (Bradt) Pootman through:

2) David Janse Putman (b. 1684 Schenectady Co NY) and Helena Beekman

3) Victor Putman (b. 1721 Monmouth Co NJ) and Margaret Wies

4) Peter Putman (b. 1760 Sussex Co NJ) and Sarah Kinnan

5) John Putman (b. 1785 Sussex Co NJ) and Sarah Martin

6) Eliza Putman (b 1820 Steuben Co NY) and Alexander Soveriegn

and so on. Our connection is probably at the first generation - Jan and Cornelia, no?

What other resources have you found that have good information? I found some documented research on this family in "ANCESTORS AND DESCENDANTS of JOHANNES PUTMAN of HOLLAND," Researched, written, and typed single handedly by WARREN T. PUTMAN of Rio Linda, California. I can't vouch for the research, but it looks like a good job. I have PDFs of the first 8 chapters if you want it. Send me an email at

Cheers -- Randy

Anonymous said...


Your mother certainly found you a 'winner' there in this book, didn't she. A genealogist could not ask for anything more. How exciting!

Happy 2008 and keep the snow on YOUR side of the Lake - okay? Cheryl

Thomas MacEntee said...

Thanks Cheryl - snow here isn't that bad but COLD! And wind chills in the negative numbers. But hope is on the way - our forecast is for 52 degrees on Sunday!!! Now I can't decide whether to wear the speedo or the thong bathing suit . . .

Thomas MacEntee said...


I figured there had to be at least one of the "usual suspects" genea-bloggers that was related to me.

Our common ancestor is David Janse Putman's father, Jan Putman (b. 1645 in Holland) who was killed in the Schenectady Massacre on 2/9/1689.

Here I am:

1) Jan Putman and Cornelia Andriese Bradt

2) Victor Putman (b. 1680 in Schenectady) and Grietje Pieterse Mabie

3) Johannes V. Putman (b. 1711 in Schenectady) and Annatje Van Antwerpen

4) David Johannes Putman (b. 1747 in Schenectady) and Anna Abrahamse Van Antwerpen

5) William Dence (b. 1778 in Fonda, New York) and Hannah Arriantje Putman

6) David Dence (b. 1802 in Watertown, New York) and Margaret De Wandelaer

7) Ira H. Austin (b. 1831 in Denmark, New York) and Hannah Dence

8) William Dence Austin (b. 1863 in Boonville, New York) and Catherine O'Keefe)

9) John Ralph Austin (b. 1896 in Lowville, New York) and Therese McGinnes - my great-grandparents.

Your David Janse Putman b. 1684 is one that I have as a David Cornelius Putman - I will need to check that.

Craig Manson said...

Wow--now that's a great discovery! And look what your blogging about it has led to! Thanks, Thomas.

Anonymous said...

Hello! I am a descendent of Jan and Cornelia. My Great Grandmother, Ethel Austin compiled a vast amount of research on the Putman Family tree. Please contact me if you are interested in seeing it. Lois Hawk